Amid a sweeping crackdown on dissent in Egypt, security forces have forcibly disappeared hundreds of people since the beginning of 2015, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

It's an "unprecedented spike," the group says, with an average of three or four people disappeared every day.

The Republican Party, as it prepares for its convention next week has checked off item No. 1 on its housekeeping list — drafting a party platform. The document reflects the conservative views of its authors, many of whom are party activists. So don't look for any concessions to changing views among the broader public on key social issues.

Many public figures who took to Twitter and Facebook following the murder of five police officers in Dallas have faced public blowback and, in some cases, found their employers less than forgiving about inflammatory and sometimes hateful online comments.

As Venezuela unravels — with shortages of food and medicine, as well as runaway inflation — President Nicolas Maduro is increasingly unpopular. But he's still holding onto power.

"The truth in Venezuela is there is real hunger. We are hungry," says a man who has invited me into his house in the northwestern city of Maracaibo, but doesn't want his name used for fear of reprisals by the government.

The wiry man paces angrily as he speaks. It wasn't always this way, he says, showing how loose his pants are now.

Ask a typical teenage girl about the latest slang and girl crushes and you might get answers like "spilling the tea" and Taylor Swift. But at the Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., the answers were "intersectional feminism" — the idea that there's no one-size-fits-all definition of feminism — and U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

2 hours ago
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Editor's note: This report contains accounts of rape, violence and other disturbing events.

Sex trafficking wasn't a major concern in the early 1980s, when Beth Jacobs was a teenager. If you were a prostitute, the thinking went, it was your choice.

Jacobs thought that too, right up until she came to, on the lot of a dark truck stop one night. She says she had asked a friendly-seeming man for a ride home that afternoon.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit


Chaos Abroad Challenges America's Power

Jul 10, 2013
Originally published on July 10, 2013 8:03 am



It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.


And I'm David Greene. Good morning.

In Egypt, the embattled interim government is laying out a plan for elections early next year. The new leaders say they hope the plan will help calm the situation after weeks of protests, violence and government upheaval. American officials say they're encouraged by this move; but that they can't dictate a timeline for elections. Which raises a question: How much does America's viewpoint even matter now, in Egypt or elsewhere across the Middle East?

Over the past few months, the chaos across the region has been a case study in the limits of American power, as NPR's Ari Shapiro reports.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: Last week, President Obama spoke carefully about the protests in Egypt. He said the U.S. would not try to dictate a specific outcome. But he did draw one firm line.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: They're going to have to work through these things. The key is making sure that they don't work through them in a violent fashion.

SHAPIRO: Within days, violence erupted and more than 50 people died. That's pretty typical of U.S. efforts to shape the Mid-East nowadays: Whatever Washington says mustn't happen, happens. Take Syria.

OBAMA: Assad needs to go.

SHAPIRO: Two years into Syria's civil war, President Bashar al Assad remains in place. And the U.S. seems unable to do anything about it.

COLONEL ANDREW BACEVICH: We find ourselves, in essence, as spectators of history as history unfolds.

SHAPIRO: Retired Army Colonel Andrew Bacevich teaches International Relations at Boston University.

BACEVICH: The real cause of change in Egypt, in Syria, in Iraq, in Afghanistan - if you go that far a field - the real causes of change are internal. And therefore yes our power is limited. And in some respects I think our power is actually irrelevant.

SHAPIRO: White House officials won't go that far. They argue that the U.S. still has more influence than any other nation. But they acknowledge that the U.S. cannot chart the course of events on the other side of the world. And that puts President Obama in a catch-22: Either he can do nothing and look like he's abandoning America's global leadership role, or he can say things he'll likely soon regret like this.

OBAMA: A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.

SHAPIRO: ...and then he looks impotent when Syria's government uses chemical weapons anyway.

Jessica Mathews is president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She argues that Obama diminishes his credibility when he declares things unacceptable, then lets them happen.

JESSICA MATHEWS: The voice of the United States is still important. And many people in the world, almost by reflex, expect the U.S. to say something in a particular international crisis. But there are times when by far the better route is to work behind the scenes or to be silent.

SHAPIRO: If President Obama is erring on the side of too little action, many argue that his predecessor, George W. Bush, erred on the side of too much.


SHAPIRO: The bombing of Iraq, known as Shock and Awe, launched a nearly decade-long war. Thousands of lives and many billions of dollars later, Saddam Hussein is gone, but Iraq is scarcely a beacon of stability and democracy.

James Lindsay, of the Council on Foreign Relations, says this shows that the U.S. can do some things well - like tear down a government.

JAMES LINDSAY: United States power, whether military or economic, is not as successful when it comes to creating stable, well-functioning, institutionalized democratic governments.

SHAPIRO: The U.S. did successfully build stable democracies after World War II - Germany, Japan, and South Korea, for example. But those projects had broad international support. Lately, President Obama's efforts to get the international community in line have failed. On the U.N. Security Council, China and Russia still support Syria's government.

Last week in Johannesburg, Obama complained that some members of the Security Council want to be free riders.

OBAMA: They love sitting around the table deciding what to do, except when it comes to bearing the burdens, bearing the costs, sometimes sharing the blame for difficult decisions that have to be made. Then suddenly, well, yeah, I'm neutral.

SHAPIRO: It was an unmistakable expression of frustration from a man who's discovered how far from all-powerful the world's leading superpower really is.

Ari Shapiro, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.